Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Heaven, Hell and the Hereafter!
Where did the popular belief that the righteous go to heaven and sinners are plunged to hell come from? Why is it that people want to "go to heaven"? Satan has cleverly deceived mankind on just about every other facet of YEHOVAH God's Plan -- so what about the hereafter? Let us strip away the spiritual blinders Satan has used to hide the truth, and see what YEHOVAH God's Word has to say on this vital subject!
by HOIM Staff
Where did the popular belief that the righteous go to heaven and sinners are plunged to hell come from?
Satan has cleverly deceived mankind on just about every facet of YEHOVAH God's Plan -- so what about the hereafter?
An ancient Babylonian legend tells of a young man, Etana, who was challenged by an eagle to soar to the heavenly abodes. Convinced that the eagle had a good idea, Etana, with the eagle, rose higher and higher into the sky until the whole earth looked like a mountain, people like dust specks, and the ocean like a gardener's small irrigation ditch.
As Etana flew higher, he finally reached the dwelling of Anu. The offended god, upset by the presence of a mere mortal in his heavenly abode, hurled Etana and the eagle down to Hades. So far as human legend is concerned, Etana's flight was certainly one of man's earliest recorded attempts to go to heavenly abodes. But like Satan's attempt to stage a coup, and take over YEHOVAH God's Throne, Etana's flight to heaven ended in disaster!
Man's Oldest Quest
Why is it that people want to "go to heaven"?
The belief in a heaven, or a hell beyond the grave, is a recognized tenet of the creeds of virtually all nations and races from the beginnings of recorded human history.
The heaven of the Hindu is absorption into Brahma. Moslems await paradise where they shall enjoy perpetual light and pleasure -- including physical pleasures, although the height of happiness will be seeing Allah face to face.
The ideas of various nations and peoples about heaven vary widely. The paradise of some primitive tribes in Australia is called "gumtree country." There, everything is better than in this world. The path to sky-land, they assert, is by way of the rays of the setting sun or the Milky Way.
Among pre-Christian Polynesians, paradise was sometimes thought of as being in a subterranean world, or inside the moon, or in the west, or on an island -- or even underwater. In Raratonga, warriors who died were thought to be living with the god Tiki in an underground region of fragrant shrubs and flowers, with limitless eating, drinking, dancing, and sleeping.
In North America, among the Delaware, Blackfeet, and Ojibwa Indians, those who broke tribal laws were banished to a gloomy region after death; others entered a happy life of bliss. To the North American Plains Indians, a future life was very real, but their understanding of it was vague and hazy. They believed one who died lived on in the afterlife just as he was in this world-- with the same passions, feelings, wishes, needs, and enmities.
From earliest times, men have wondered about an afterlife. In the caves of earliest man, the presence of objects to accompany the dead reveal a belief in life after death. In Neolithic cultures, evidence from specially constructed tombs provides even more proof of men's continual fascination with death and the hereafter.
Ancient Egyptian religious texts, called the Pyramid Texts, are mainly concerned with the desire of the dead to avoid leading a gloomy existence in the underworld. The august dead, supposedly, could dwell in the sky like the gods, voyaging with the sun god in his ship, or dwell in the Field of Laru, the "fields of the blessed."
The Egyptians believed that the souls of the dead had to traverse a vast wilderness region called the Tuat, which was inhabited by gods, demons, fiends, evil spirits, wicked souls, snakes, monsters, etc. After successfully traversing this nether region, they would reach the presence of Osiris.
The dead were ushered into a Hall of Judgment presided over by Osiris. Those receiving a favorable verdict were, after several purifying ordeals, transported to the fields of Alu to enjoy perennial life under the shadow of the tree of life, the sycamore of Nut. However, the condemned were dismembered, undergoing a "second death," tortured by burning coals, plunged into deep waters, and cut into pieces by sharp swords. Declares Kohler: "We have here the very origin of the Inferno and Paradiso" (Kaufmann Kohler, Heaven and Hell in Comparative Religion, p. 23).
But, if the earliest evidence shows the concept of a heaven and hell after death originating in ancient paganism, where did today's professing Christian world obtain its doctrines of heaven and hell? Are these doctrines pagan myths carried over by theological orthodoxy into modern times? Does the Biblical record affirm these ancient beliefs?
Shocking as it may seem, the Bible says something altogether different from what millions have supposed.
Satan, the great deceiver and enemy of YEHOVAH God, has indeed deceived the whole world as to YEHOVAH's Plan and the truth about the hereafter!
If the Bible teaches that the righteous go to heaven when they die, then certainly such Biblical heroes as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Samuel, David, and Daniel must be in heaven right now. Yet, hundreds of years after all those great men died, and when Yeshua the Messiah began his public ministry, he remarked to his disciples, "No man hath ascended up to heaven..." (John 3:13).
After the death and resurrection of the Messiah, the apostle Peter told a large crowd of people in Jerusalem, on Pentecost, A.D. 31, that David "is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day." He added, so that he would not be misunderstood, "For David is NOT ascended into the heavens..." (Acts 2:29, 34).
These two scriptures disprove the fond illusions and cherished beliefs of millions of people who assume that the Bible teaches that the righteous go to heaven when they die!
David was a man after YEHOVAH God's own heart (Acts 13:22). Yet the Scriptures plainly state that he did NOT "go to heaven." The only one who ever "went to heaven" other than the Messiah was the Devil, and he was immediately kicked out!
Then where did David go? What really happened to David and the Biblical patriarchs?
Let's strip away the spiritual blinders Satan has used to hide the truth, and see what YEHOVAH God's Word has to say on this subject.
The Reward of the Righteous of Israel
To begin to answer these questions, the apostle Paul made an important statement in the book of Galatians. He asserted: "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
True Christians, then, are Abraham's physical descendants or "seed." They are to inherit something that was "promised." To learn what Christian Israelites are to inherit, then we must see what was promised to Abraham.
The biography of Abraham is recorded in the book of Genesis. Abraham left the sophisticated city of Ur of the Chaldees to journey to the land of Canaan toward the west. He determined to obey YEHOVAH God and do the things He commanded.
YEHOVAH, in return for Abraham's obedience and submission to his way, made a specific promise to Abraham and his descendants. "And the LORD said unto Abram...Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever" (Genesis 13:14-15).
YEHOVAH later confirmed the promises to Abraham (Genesis 21:13; 22:15-18) and made the same promise to Isaac, Abraham's son (Genesis 26:2-5). Notice that this promise primarily included an inheritance of land forever. In order to inherit this land forever, eternal life also must have been part of the promise!
The promise made to Abraham, then, was the land of Canaan, which he and his descendants would inherit for all eternity. Later, however, YEHOVAH God expanded this promise to include the whole world. The apostle Paul in Romans 4:13 called Abraham "the heir of the world," not just of the land of Canaan.
This, then, is the promise which all true Christians, as the descendants of Abraham, are to inherit!
New Testament Evidence
This same promise is reaffirmed in the New Testament. Yeshua the Messiah plainly told his disciples: "Blessed are the meek [of Israel]: for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5).
In the book of Revelation, we read the crystal clear statement: "...thou [Christ] wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation [of those Israelites in dispersion], and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth" (Revelation 5:9-10, RSV).
The Psalms of David also make this truth clear. David wrote: "For evildoers shall be cut off: but those [Israelites] that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:9). This entire psalm is full of similar references. Verse 29 adds: "The righteous [of Israel] shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever."
Not Yet Fulfilled
However, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, and all the rest of the patriarchs are still waiting to receive what was promised to them. To this very day, they have not yet inherited the earth.
In the book of Hebrews we read: "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed....By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise..." (Hebrews 11:8-9).
Notice further that these all "died in faith, not having received the promises" (verse 13). Also: "And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise..." (verse 39).
So when will the patriarchs, along with true Christian Israelites -- those who truly follow the teachings of Yeshua the Messiah, repent of their sins, and accept him as Saviour -- receive the promises?
At the Resurrection
Yeshua himself gave the answer: "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all [Israelites] who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28-29, RSV).
The promises will be inherited at the time of the resurrection of the righteous of Israel. The apostle Paul declared: "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
When the Messiah appears on this earth, the patriarchs and truly converted Christian Israelites will be raised from their graves. At that time, Yeshua will reward the righteous, and they will then assist him and YEHOVAH God in ruling over the entire earth for 1,000 years (see Revelation 20:4; Daniel 2:44 and 7:27).
Clearly, then, the idea of the righteous going to heaven when they die is not Biblical. But what about the belief that evildoers are cast into an ever-burning hell?
A Gallup survey in 1967 showed that 68 percent of Americans believe in heaven, but only 54 percent are persuaded of the reality of hell. Why the difference? Probably, many of those who believe in a heaven simply cannot bring themselves to think that a loving, merciful God could consign any poor wretch to a place of eternal torment!
A survey in New Zealand indicated that six out of ten believe hell is a state of mind. Only 26 percent believed hell was a literal place.
Interviewers of passersby on the street in San Francisco obtained the following descriptions when asked: "How do you picture hell?"
First person: "Honestly, I have doubts there is such a place. I feel hell is a means of scaring people, so they will lead a better life....If there is such a place, I suppose it is craggy and filled with people feeding furnaces or breaking rocks."
Second person: "When I was young I had a clear picture of what hell is like -- flames and a devil with horns and a pitch fork. But a person gets over this, just as he does with Santa Claus."
Third person: "The idea of hell is one of the greatest means in the world for teaching children good. Personally, however, I think it is just a Biblical term." (What did he mean by that?)
Fourth person: "I would rather not think about it."
Fifth person: "I have never thought of it except as I have seen it staged in operas or plays."
Sixth person: "I picture hell as a big, hot, uncomfortable desert. I think it does exist. Not down in the ground. But since Someone put us here, then He could easily have a place for us afterward."
Seventh person: "Hell is a place of unhappy confinement, like a prison. Not necessarily with flames. More a torment of the spirit. I believe it is an actual area, although not necessarily down any more than heaven must be up."
All of these were interesting comments. But what about you? Are you one of those who would rather not think about it? Is the thought of "hell" too much for your mind to stand?
Today even theologians are perplexed. Most do not believe in a literal "hell." Said one: "The essence of hell is separation from God -- not really torture, but torment."
Another described hell as "a condition of human existence." Still another said: "I am fully convinced that Satan as an independent personality does not make sense in the 20th century...." He asserted that many theologians "argue that the devil is out-of-date."
One minister claimed hell is "the loss of communication, insensitivity to spiritual values, the realization of how far short of our capacities we have fallen, the memory of some of the things we have done."
What abysmal confusion!
Isn't it time we learned the TRUTH?
There is no reason why you should remain ignorant. The Bible speaks plainly about the subject of "hell." The truth about "hell" will astound you! There really is a "hell" according to the Bible -- but it is not what you have been taught!
The Two Extremes
There are two extremes concerning "hell" in the world. One totally denies that hell exists. It passes hell off as a mere ancient superstition which has no relevance whatsoever to modern life!
The other extreme, believed in by most so-called Bible fundamentalists, pictures hell as a terrible place of never-ending torment. It is ruled over by the devil and his demons who gleefully "roast" sinners like millions of wieners on a barbecue spit. According to this concept, there is a constant weeping, wailing, crying, cursing, shrieking and screaming coming from the mouths of those in hell. Their torment is for all eternity. They are forever doomed!
But consider: If this concept is true, and if all sinners or non-Christian Israelites go to such a fiery place of torment, doesn't it strike you as unjust and unmerciful since MOST OF THE ISRAELITE WORLD TODAY IS (AND FOR MOST OF ALL TIME) NON-CHRISTIAN? The Bible says that none of YEHOVAH's people Israel can be saved unless they believe -- and obey the Messiah (Acts 4:12).
Therefore, if only Christian Israelites can be saved, and if all others of Israel are doomed to the fires of a never-ending hell, that must mean that A LARGE PERCENTAGE of mankind has been and is DOOMED!
Doesn't such a concept picture Satan the devil as frightfully more powerful, successful, and intelligent than YEHOVAH God? Doesn't it picture YEHOVAH as being woefully impotent and weak, incapable of doing His job?
Something is surely wrong with such a concept of hell! The Bible reveals that YEHOVAH God is ALL POWERFUL -- the ALMIGHTY God. Satan can do nothing unless YEHOVAH God permits it (Isa. 14:12-14, Luke 10:17, Job 1:8-12). When the Messiah himself commanded the devil to leave, he immediately slunk away (Matt. 4:1-11).
YEHOVAH God is also ALL MERCIFUL. He is a God of LOVE (I John 4:8-10). Therefore, it is totally inconceivable that such a mighty, merciful God would allow Satan to thwart His plan, that He would allow millions of Israelites to be lost and doomed to hell, even though they NEVER HEARD the name of Yeshua the Messiah even so much as uttered during their whole lives! Such a God would not be a God of love, but a sadistic monster, an evil fiend!
Thank YEHOVAH that such a concept of "hell" is totally erroneousand the Bible proves it so.
The Greek Words
Actually, there are three Greek words used in the Bible, all of them translated "hell." They do NOT refer to the same thing. Their meanings are totally different.
One word is tartaroo. It is used only once in the entire Bible -- II Peter 2:4 -- and refers to the condition of restraint of the fallen angels. It never refers to men!
"Hades"-- the Grave
The second Greek word often translated "hell," in English, is hades. The word hades comes from two roots which literally mean ''unseen," "unknown," "unperceived," or "unconsidered." It always refers to the grave, the place the dead are buried! You can see the connection easily. When a dead person is buried, he is out of sight, unseen -- no longer known or perceived. He is gone. The word hades is never used in the Bible to refer to gehenna fire, or the final hell fire! It always refers to the GRAVE! The Old Testament Hebrew word translated "hell" is sheol. It has the same meaning as hades and refers to a grave or pit or hole in the ground.
Hades (the grave) is the "hell" the Messiah was in for three days (Acts 2:26-27). The Moffatt translation renders this verse: "because thou wilt not forsake my soul in the grave, nor let thy holy one suffer decay." (When the King James translation of the Bible was made, Englishmen commonly spoke of putting potatoes in "hell" for the winter. They used the word to refer to a pit or hole in the ground.)
The King James translators themselves knew that hades meant "grave." They so translated it in I Corinthians 15:55. It could not possibly refer to the lake of fire or gehenna, because we read in Revelation 20:14 that "death and hell (hades, the GRAVE)" will both be cast into "the lake of fire." Hades, then, refers to the grave -- the abode of the dead -- not YEHOVAH God's final punishment upon the wicked!
Hades is the "hell" that every human being, except those of YEHOVAH's people Israel who are alive and changed to meet the Messiah at his future appearance, goes to when they die! All men alike, rich and poor, kings and slaves, whether white, black, brown or yellow, go to this "hell" when they die. No one escapes!
Solomon explained it clearly: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place [THE GRAVE]; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again" (Eccl. 3:19-20).
Think on that a moment. If men go to a fiery hell when they die, then so do cats, dogs, rabbits, chipmunks, skunks, deer, elk, moose, and every kind of animal! Isn't it ridiculous to think "good" animals go to heaven, but "bad" animals go to hell forever and ever? Animals don't sin. But Solomon said men have the same fate as animals -- one is no better than the other in death. Both go to the grave and turn to dust after they die!
Solomon understood. He declared: "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten" (Eccl. 9:5). Solomon said in verse 10: "For there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
How clear, then. When people die, they go to the GRAVE and remain there. Their bodies turn to dust. The Bible says nothing about them being plunged instantaneously into a fiery "hell." "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return," YEHOVAH God says (Gen. 3:19).
Yet there is one more Greek word translated "hell" which we have not covered. And it does indeed refer to a fiery type of hell fire!
Let's notice just what this "hell" is, when it occurs, and how long it lasts -- and who will be sent there!
"Gehenna" -- "Hell Fire"
What is the fate of the wicked of Israel, those who reject YEHOVAH God and despise Yeshua the Messiah?
John the Baptist spoke about the final fate or destiny of the wicked of Israel. Seeing evil-minded, blasphemous Pharisees and their ilk coming around him as he preached the Gospel, John was moved to exclaim: "O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet [fitting] for repentance" (Matt. 3:78). He thundered to these hypocrites, "And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (verse 10). Speaking of Yeshua the Messiah, he said, "Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will BURN UP the chaff with unquenchable fire" (verse 12).
Here John described the fate of those Israelites who refuse to repent. Like worthless brush, thistles, or the chaff of the threshing floor, they will ultimately be cast into a fire and burned up! This fire doesn't just "singe," or scorch; it thoroughly CONSUMES whatever is cast into it!
What strange fire was John talking about? Let's read on, and see what Yeshua himself had to say about this mystery.
Yeshua first mentioned hell in Matthew 5, the "Sermon on the Mount." Yeshua declared, "But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say unto his brother, Raca, ["vain fellow"] shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of HELL FIRE" (verse 22).
What "hell" was Yeshua talking about? And what did he mean by these strange-sounding remarks?
The Greek word for "hell" Yeshua used in these verses is geenna (usually spelled and pronounced Gehenna), and refers to the ancient dwelling place of the sons of Hinnom, a valley just outside the city of Jerusalem which came to be used as a garbage dump or rubbish pit. Filthy, dirty garbage, dead bodies, and corpses of criminals were thrown into this valley and burned up. Yeshua used this figurative expression as a symbol of the final HELL FIRE which will consume the bodies of the incorrigibly wicked of Israel!
But when will these wicked Israelites perish in this fire? When will unrepentant sinners be cast into Gehenna fire? Turn to the Book of Revelation, where we find the answer.
The Lake of Fire
In the 20th chapter of Revelation we find a brief summary of YEHOVAH God's plan for the future. We learn that when the Messiah appears, Satan the devil will be bound, the saints of Israel will be resurrected, and will reign on the earth with the Messiah and YEHOVAH God for one thousand years (verses 14).
"But the rest of the dead [of Israel] lived not again until the thousand years were finished," the Apostle John writes (verse 5). Therefore -- at the end of the thousand years -- all those Israelites who lived and died, who were not saints, will be resurrected. This tremendous resurrection, of untold millions of people, is recounted in verse 12:
"And I saw the dead [of Israel], small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
Notice. This is a resurrection to life. The book of LIFE was opened. Those of YEHOVAH's people Israel coming up in this resurrection will be judged "according to their works"! This is not a resurrection to condemnation. Rather, these people will be the uncountable millions of Israelites who lived and died in this life, who never even had a chance for salvation -- those who lived and died in ignorance, those who never even heard the true Gospel of the Messiah during their lives! At that time they will be given a period of time in which YEHOVAH God will open their eyes, show them His truth, and give them their first and only chance for salvation!
But now, notice what will happen AFTER this period of time. "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [hades, already explained] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell [hades] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:13-15).
Here is another entirely different resurrection! This is the final resurrection to condemnation!
This "lake of fire" is the Gehenna-fire the Messiah spoke of; it is the "fire" that John the Baptist warned the hypocritical Pharisees about; it is the hell fire of your Bible!
Notice. This fire is called the "second death" (Revelation 20:14). It is the FINAL DEATH from which there is no resurrection! This death is the penalty of sin (Romans 6:23). It is the death Messiah Yeshua came to spare you and other Israelites from!
John writes, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8).
The Tremendous Holocaust
What about this "hell fire?" Where will it be? How hot? How big? How long will it last?
Peter helps us understand. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (II Peter 3:10).
Notice verse 7: "But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men"!
How plain. This great fire is the same as the "lake of fire," mentioned in Revelation, when YEHOVAH God judges the incorrigibly wicked of Israel. It will sweep around the entire earth! The elements themselves will be dissolved, the surface of the earth will be purged and consumed with tremendous heat. Every remnant of sin, every sign of iniquity, every last trace of evil will be devoured by the heat of this fire.
Then there will be new heavens and a new earth, in which the immortal, ever-living sons of YEHOVAH God's people Israel will live and reign, throughout all eternity (Revelation 21:12).
But the incorrigibly wicked of Israel, those who deliberately persist in rebellion against YEHOVAH when they know better, will have no part in it. They will be annihilated in the lake of fire! (Malachi 4:13). YEHOVAH will never entrust the awesome powers of the God-Family to rebellious, selfish, spiteful, perverse men who have repudiated His love and despised His government throughout their lives.
Those of Israel who refuse YEHOVAH God's mercy, those who refuse to repent when they receive YEHOVAH's truths, will be blotted out of existence! Actually, this punishment will be merciful for them. How much better it will be for them to simply die, rather than to have to suffer the agony of living forever and SEEING what they have missed out on, forever.
YEHOVAH God is not a cruel, harsh monster. Nor is He vindictive. He does not intend to torment the wicked for all eternity. Rather, He is going to punish them for their sins, in justice -- and give them merciful death instead of endless pain and eternal agony in some man-devised "hell"!
Notice more proof.
"But the wicked shall PERISH, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away" (Psalm 37:20). This describes the true fate of the wicked of Israel.
The prophet Malachi writes of this awesome day. "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch....And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts" (Malachi 4:1, 3).
These are not any man's words.
These are the words of YEHOVAH God.
Is "Hell" Everlasting?
In the book of Matthew, Yeshua the Messiah twice uses the expression "everlasting fire" (Matthew 18:8; 25:41). Notice 25:41 -- "Then shall he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."
What did Yeshua mean by "everlasting"? The Bible does not contradict itself (John 10:35).
He used a Greek word -- aionios -- which comes from the Greek aion, meaning an "AGE." The word aion is translated "AGES" in Ephesians 2:7 and Colossians 1:26. The aionios fire Yeshua spoke of refers to the age-ending fire which will occur at "the end of this world," and which will introduce the "world to come"! It is an epochal event!
This is why Yeshua calls it aionios or age-lasting fire! The translation "everlasting" is misleading, since the fire itself will not burn forever. Obviously not, since YEHOVAH God's Word clearly shows that when the present earth is purged and purified, it will be refashioned into a resplendent NEW EARTH!
Notice a Bible example which proves Yeshua was not talking about an "everlasting" fire, in the sense people assume.
Turn to Jude 7, where the identical Greek expression is used, but where it is translated "eternal fire." Read this verse carefully: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Jude said the destruction of these two cities is an example for us. Their fate depicts the fate of all the wicked, at the end of the age! They suffered -- notice it -- the vengeance of "ETERNAL fire."
Now, what happened to these two ill-fated cities?
Read the answer in the book of Genesis. "Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire [a type of the "lake of fire''!] from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the in habitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground....And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace (Genesis 19:24-28).
This terrible destruction is a direct type of the age-end fire which will consume and annihilate the wicked!
But did you notice? Jude calls this ancient punishment "eternal fire" -- yet, the fire which devoured these cities in ancient times is not still burning in Palestine today! It burned itself out, long, long ago! Nevertheless, the awesome EFFECT of this tremendous fire IS "eternal" -- and is a witness for us, today!
Now you should be able to understand what the expression "everlasting" fire or "eternal" fire means. It does not mean the fire itself will burn forever, any more than the "eternal" fire which destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is still burning, today. Rather, this expression refers to a great AGE ENDING FIRE, whose awesome EFFECT will be eternal! The fire itself will not last forever, but its effect is complete, total, and permanent destruction!
But if this is the case, some will wonder, what about the parable of Lazarus and the rich man? Wasn't the rich man cast into an ever-burning fire?
What about this story?
Lazarus and the Rich Man
In Luke 16:19-31 Yeshua gives the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. " There was a certain rich man [Yeshua meant there really was] who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day...there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores...and it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame..."
What Is Abraham's Bosom?
This story says Lazarus died and was carried to Abraham's "bosom."
What exactly is a bosom? If we can find out what a "bosom" is-in this case Abraham's -- we will know where the beggar was taken.
Any dictionary will tell you that a bosom is the breast of a human being, with the arms as an enclosure; a loving embrace by the arms of one person about another; an intimate relationship.
Lazarus then, was carried into an intimate relationship with Abraham. Lazarus is pictured here as an Israelite who received salvation, by becoming the Messiah's follower or disciple. Notice "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed (descendants), and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29).
The Promise to Abraham
Abraham is a heir of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH gave Abraham a promise and his descendants will become heirs of it. But what was this promise that Abraham will receive, and the beggar who is his heir?
In Genesis 12 we read where YEHOVAH told Abraham of the land of Canaan: "...Unto thy [physical, genetic] seed will I give this land." The land of Canaan is called Palestine today. Again, later YEHOVAH God promised Abraham: "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed FOREVER" (Genesis 13:15).
The promise was not heaven. The promise YEHOVAH gave to Abraham was the land of Palestine, on this earth. It was forever, so the promise given to Abraham and his seed (or descendants) included eternal life, and eternal inheritance on planet earth!
The beggar, like all Christian Israelites, is an heir to the promise to Abraham.
In Acts 7 Stephen, the first Christian Israelite martyr, speaks of Abraham: "And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our Father Abraham...and said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into THE LAND which I will show thee. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans...into this land, wherein ye now dwell [Palestine]. And He gave him none inheritance in it...yet He promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed [physical descendants] after him."
This truth is also stated in Hebrew 11:8-13: "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed;...By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise...These all died in faith, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES, but having seen them afar off..."
In John 8:52 we read "Abraham is dead" -- Notice: Abraham was not up in heaven, but dead, in the days of the Messiah!
Yeshua said Abraham would receive the promises, including eternal life, through the RESURRECTION: "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living" (Matthew 22:31-32).
Yeshua told the Pharisees they would see Abraham in the Kingdom because Abraham, now dead, will be RESURRECTED from the dead (Luke 13:28).
Abraham is dead, and so is the beggar. When will they receive the promises? Both will receive the promises at the resurrection when the Messiah appears to set up his FATHER's kingdom: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations [of Israel]: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:31-34).
Carried by Angels
In Luke's account we read where Lazarus was to be carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. We know that Lazarus is in a state of sleep as is Abraham awaiting the future appearance of the Messiah when the resurrection will occur. In Matthew 24:31 we read that the Messiah shall "send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds" -- out of their graves in a RESURRECTION. Lazarus and Abraham are to be carried by the angels through the air to meet the Messiah when he comes.
There is no doubt as to how the Bible uses the word "bosom." In Isaiah 40:11 YEHOVAH God shows He will care for His people as a shepherd cares for his sheep, which He will carry "in his bosom."
Yeshua says he was in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), enjoying the Father's blessings and close relationship.
To be in one's bosom is to have that one's love and protection, and share his blessings and inheritance. So it will be at the RESURRECTION that Lazarus will be in Abraham's bosom.
The Rich Man in "Hell"
What did Yeshua mean when He said "...the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments....(Luke 16:22-23).
The Greek word used for "hell" in this verse is hades which I have already shown to mean "grave" or "tomb."
Yeshua said, "When the rich man lifts up his eyes he will see Lazarus and Abraham." Lazarus and Abraham will not be together till the resurrection -- this is when the rich man will open up his eyes and see them.
Daniel speaks of the resurrection of the just, and of the unjust of Israel: "And many of them that sleep [their eyes are closed while sleeping] in the dust of the earth [their graves -- buried-in "hades"], shall awake [lift up their eyes] some to everlasting life [Lazarus and Abraham] and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Daniel 12:2).
Yeshua said: "...the hour is coming, in which all [of YEHOVAH's people Israel] that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto THE RESURRECTION OF LIFE: and they that have done evil [including the rich man], unto the RESURRECTION OF JUDGMENT" (John 5:28-29).
Here Yeshua speaks of TWO DIFFERENT, SEPARATE RESURRECTIONS. The first resurrection will be of the righteous at the Messiah's coming and the resurrection of judgment will occur one thousand years later -- after the Millennium!
So, while Yeshua in speaking about the rich man and Lazarus, did not say WHEN the rich man will open his eyes and be resurrected out of his grave, other scriptures do reveal that it will be after the Millennium!
What Is This Flame?
But when the rich man is resurrected after the Millennium, he will open his eyes and see Lazarus and Abraham and also a "flame" which torments him. What is this flame?
Yeshua spoke of a "gehenna" fire or "a lake of fire" that will be used to destroy the wicked. This is the second death, which will be by fire. This death is for all eternity! ETERNAL PUNISHMENT -- but not eternal punishing!
When the rich man opens his eyes, he will see Lazarus in Abraham's bosom -- his embrace. He will also see this awful flame of fire -- this lake of fire which is about to destroy him forever! He becomes terrified. His mouth suddenly becomes very dry, and his tongue sticks to his mouth. The rich man cries out in mental anguish, "Father Abraham have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."
The rich man will be in a condition of WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH at this time, for he knows he is about to be burned up and destroyed! Yeshua said this same thing to the Pharisees in Luke 13:27-28: "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out."
What Is the Great Gulf?
Yeshua continues the story of the rich man in verse 25, describing what Abraham would say to the rich man. That he had his reward in material things he sought and craved, and because of this he is now doomed!
The "great gulf" mentioned in verse 26 by Abraham, represents IMMORTALITY which prevents the wicked of Israel from escaping death by hell fire and also keeps the righteous of Israel from being burned.
The rich man realized he is doomed in verse 27, and now asked if Abraham would send Lazarus to his father's house to plead with his brothers, lest they come to his terrible fate. Abraham replied they had the writings of Moses and the prophets. But the rich man realized they would not hear these Scriptures. "Nay, Father Abraham," he screamed, "but if one went unto them from the dead they will repent!" (Verse 30). Obviously, the rich man had no idea of the passage of time while he had been dead. He assumed his brothers were still alive. It seemed to him only a split second between his death and his resurrection.
The rich man knew Lazarus was RAISED FROM THE DEAD! This one statement proves that the whole experience of Lazarus and the rich man was given by Yeshua to show the truth of the resurrection -- not to teach any immediate going to "heaven" or "hell" at the instant of death. It shows mortality which dies, and is DEAD -- not immortality which never loses consciousness and lives forever in an eternal punishing of an imaginary "hell" of Dante!
Another much misunderstood scripture is Mark 9:43 where Yeshua speaks of "the fire that never shall be quenched."
Does this mean the fire burns forever?
Not at all. Take a match, light it and set a piece of paper on fire. Let it burn. Don't put it out, or snuff it out. Just let the paper burn, until it burns up. Soon it will burn itself out.
Now, what do you have? A burned-up piece of paper. But did you put it out? Did you "quench" it? No. You left it unquenched. It was not quenched. Not at all!
Even so, the final Gehenna fire will not be "quenched," or "put out." Nevertheless, in time, it will burn itself out when the wicked and all their wicked works are burned up!
Any fire will go out when it runs out of fuel. That's the way the final Gehenna fire will be. In time, it will naturally burn itself out!
There you have you have it.
The fate of the wicked Israelites, in the Bible, is death -- the second death in the lake of fire. The wicked will die (Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Their consciousness will be destroyed for all eternity. They will have no feelings, thoughts, emotions. They will be dust and ashes under the feet of the righteous! As we have seen before, man is composed of dust. He is dust. He does not have an immortal soul abiding within him. Therefore, when the wicked of Israel are destroyed, there will be nothing left of them to show they ever existed.
Only those who obey YEHOVAH God -- true Christians physically descended from Abraham -- will inherit eternal life (John 3:16). All others will die the second death. Those are the two alternatives YEHOVAH places before those of us of Israel: eternal life on the one hand, and everlasting death on the other hand.
Thus we see the Devil has not only deceived YEHOVAH's people Israel about what days to observe, twisted the truth about YEHOVAH God's Law, confused millions as to the true gospel and what it means to believe on the Messiah, as well as true repentance of sin, but even as to the nature of man, the reward of the saved of Israel, and the fate of the wicked of Israel!
What else has the Devil cleverly concealed and masterfully counterfeited?
Just What Do You Mean...The Kingdom of YEHOVAH God?
Is it the CHURCH? Is it something "set up in the hearts of men"? Is it the British Empire? Is it "the good within you"? Is it "the Millennium"? Each of these is widely taught -- yet NONE is right! The shocking TRUTH is here made plain!
Why Were YOU Born?
Is there any PURPOSE for human life? Does life, after all, have real MEANING YOU have never realized? You need to know!
Is There a REAL Hell Fire?
There is no need to live in fear and doubt -- YOU CAN KNOW what and where hell is, WHO goes to hell and whether any can LEAVE hell. Read the answers, plainly written and explained from YEHOVAH's Own Word.
For your articles, write to:
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking the Lead in the Search for Truth!
Hope of Israel Ministries
|Scan with your